Recipes: Easy Salads That Sing Summer

With so much gorgeous summer produce sprouting up daily here in Chicago, the recipe possibilities can overwhelm. These summer salads are a great place to start; they taste fantastic and highlight the best picks of the season in all their glory.

Sugar Snap Pea & Fennel Salad

Sugar Snap Pea & Fennel Salad from Gourmande in the Kitchen
Photo by Sylvie Shirazi.

Crunchy takes on a whole new meaning in this sugar snap pea and fennel salad from Gourmande in the Kitchen. Thin slices of these summer farmer’s market staples get tossed with toasted walnuts and poppy English peas for even more great texture. The mix comes together with apple cider vinaigrette for that perfect sweet/tart contrast. Get the recipe on Gourmande in the Kitchen.

Sprouted Wild Rice & Beet Salad With Ginger Dressing

Sprouted Wild Rice & Beet Salad With Ginger Dressing from My New Roots
Photo by Sarah Britton.

Grains are a great way to elevate a salad from just an appetizer or side dish to entrée status. This Sprouted Wild Rice & Beet Salad courtesy of My New Roots is one such example, combining wild rice with a whole medley of brightly colored beets. Sunflower seeds and chopped herbs add more brightness and bite while the accompanying ginger dressing spices up the whole bowl. Get the recipe on My New Roots.

Late Summer Kale Salad

Late Summer Kale Salad from Brooklyn Supper
Photo by Elizabeth Stark.

It’s tough to beat a good kale salad both in terms of flavor and health benefits. Brooklyn Supper adds their own summery spin to this new classic by incorporating sliced sweet plums and succulent green zebra tomatoes, two ingredients that are positively dreamy come July and August. Topped with a grating of Parmesan cheese, you’ve got a dinner fit for the patio and some accompanying sunshine. Get the recipe on Brooklyn Supper.

Cherry Salad With Quinoa & Fennel

Cherry Salad with Quinoa & Fennel from Naturally Ella
Photo by Erin Alderson.

Few fruits are more synonymous with summer than sweet cherries, especially in the Midwest. While often found in dessert preparations like pies or crumbles, their signature sweetness is ideally suited to balance out savory dishes. Take this Cherry Salad with Quinoa and Fennel from Naturally Ella. Ruby-red sweet cherries get tossed with cooked quinoa, chopped fennel, sunflower seeds and a sprinkling of feta cheese for a meal that is as stunning as it is nutritious. Get the recipe on Naturally Ella.

Grilled Panzanella With Poached Egg

Grilled Panzanella with Poached Egg
Photo by Jeanine Donofrio

Panzanella is a fun way to mix up your normal salad routine and use leftover scraps of bread. Love and Lemons combines grilled hunks of crusty bread with the traditional Caprese mix of cherry tomatoes, Italian cheese and loads of chopped fresh basil. A poached egg on top not only adds extra protein, but, when pierced, creates a natural sauce to bind the whole salad. A great way to incorporate “salad” into your summer breakfast routine. Get the recipe on Love and Lemons.

Peach and Corn Coleslaw

Peach and Corn Coleslaw
Photo by Stephenie Le

It’s tough to beat a ripe, juicy peach on a hot summer day. It’s even tougher when it’s paired with crunchy, sweet corn. This coleslaw recipe from I Am a Food Blog makes these star ingredients shine by charring them on the grill and incorporating them into a simple coleslaw. Dressed in an herbaceous Asian-style vinaigrette, you’ve got the ultimate side dish to accompany all your barbecue favorites. Get the recipe on I Am a Food Blog.

Honey Watermelon Caprese

Honey Watermelon Caprese
Photo by Jessica Merchant

We thought we’d already found the ultimate watermelon Caprese this summer, but then we found another one too superb to pass up. Big wedges of juicy watermelon receive a quick char on the grill before getting topped with a generous drizzle of honey. This then becomes the base for your Caprese salad, further enhancing the pop and sweetness of all those gorgeous cherry tomatoes. Try this one out at your next dinner party and make your friends swoon. Get the recipe on How Sweet It Is.

Summer Vegetable Cous Cous

This cous cous salad from The Clever Carrot is essentially just an enhanced version of a Greek salad, combining Israeli cous cous with cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, red onion, feta and herbs, and a bright lemon vinaigrette. Since the vegetables and cous cous will only continue to develop flavor the longer this salad sits, it is an ideal recipe to make ahead of time and nosh on throughout the week. Get the recipe on The Clever Carrot.

Blueberry Corn Salad

Blueberry Corn Salad
Photo by Tara O’Brady

Looking to use all those late-summer blueberries in something other than muffins? Then give this Blueberry Corn Salad from Seven Spoons a spin. Sauteed corn and blueberries get tossed with shallots, red chilies and green onions before receiving a hefty squeeze of lime juice and handful of queso fresco for a Mexican flair. A beautiful, flavor-forward salad that makes the perfect accompaniment to flank steak, pork chops and grilled chicken. Get the recipe on Seven Spoons.

Summer Salad With Feta, Pecans, Basil and Blackberry Vinaigrette

Summer Salad with Feta, Pecans, Basil and Blackberry Vinaigrette
Photo by Feasting Not Fasting

The best salads are often built out of necessity: “What veggies do I need to use up?” “What stray pantry items do I have lying around?” “Which herbs are on their last days?” This Summer Salad from Feasting Not Fasting takes this concept and runs with it by mixing salad greens with feta, toasted pecans, chopped basil and a tart blackberry vinaigrette. A meal sure to become an instant favorite for quick lunches and easy suppers. Get the recipe on Feasting Not Fasting.


Maddie LaKind is a personal chef, caterer and writer living in Ravenswood. For more information about her services, visit her website,


Support local food banks and pantries:

[takeaction targettype=”takeaction” targetid=”food-banks-pantries-2″ location=Chicago, IL]

More from Make It Better: